Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
December 6, 2009
Our artificial Christmas tree has served us well for
Shall we trim a
“real” tree or use an artificial tree for Christmas? My wife and I pondered
that question for many years. Most years we decided against an artificial
tree. But about ten years ago we opted
for the convenience of the tree that can be taken apart and boxed up after
Christmas. This week we assembled once again our aging, seven-foot artificial
tree and it suits us fine.
The subject of
Christmas trees can spark a good debate. Why destroy so many trees every year
when our environment needs trees? We cut down a perfectly good tree, use it for
a couple of weeks, and then discard it. To ease our conscience we recycle it to
enrich the soil or toss it in a pond to make a bream bed. This makes little
sense. But there is the tradition, and what is life without our traditions?
Grandpa walked out in
the woods on a cold December day and chopped down a tree every year. We have always
done it that way. It is quicker nowadays with a chain saw and it can be a nice
"father-son" thing to go out to the farm and bring back a nice tree. Some
people insist on having a "live" tree; they scorn the very idea of
artificial trees. But what you have when you cut a tree down is a dead tree,
not a live one. It simply looks alive for a few days. We even play the sadistic
trick of putting the dead tree in water, making the tree think for a little
while that it has a chance to survive. How cruel can we get?
Then there is the
cost factor. Christmas trees cost more and more. Lately it is hard to find a
good one for less than fifty dollars. The nice artificial trees can cost a
hundred dollars or more. But my wife and I reason that over a period of ten years,
our artificial tree has cost us less than ten dollars a year. So we save money and
save the environment at the same time.
But wait, we want
life to be simple, right? Use the artificial tree and you must store it
carefully each year and remember where it is. Use the cut tree and you simply
throw it away; you don’t have to remember where you put it. That, it turns out,
is much simpler than storing the artificial tree so that a year later you can
find all the pieces. The older we get, the more difficult it is to find things
that we have stored. One year the stand was missing; I had failed to store it
in the box with the tree.
Sometimes we have
trouble deciding what to put on the very top of the tree. My wife likes angels,
so she argues for an angel, a big angel. "I think the angel looks good
there," she says; "what do you think?" I tell her I don’t
believe any self-respecting angel would ever sit down on the top of a pine
tree. She insists that the angel will love it so the angel stays put.
This month we have
decorated our 57th Christmas tree. That is a lot of trees to put up
and take down. So we are thinking about not taking this one down. Why not leave
it decorated just like it is? We may simply wrap a sheet around it and store
the whole thing until next Christmas. We would save a lot of time, energy, and
money. This would be simplicity at its best.
Next December we
could merely undrape the tree, plug in the lights, hug each other, smile, drink
hot chocolate, and sing "O Christmas Tree." The real challenge would
be to remember where we stored it. That is not easy for two old folks who have
trouble remembering where we put our glasses down. But it might be worth a try.
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